PRESTONSBURG – Floyd County Circuit Judge Tom Smith has dismissed the wrongful death lawsuit brought against disability attorney Eric C. Conn.
The suit was brought against Conn by Emma Burchett, the widow of Leroy Burchett. Leroy Burchett committed suicide earlier this year, shortly after receiving word this past May his disability benefits had been suspended due to a fraud investigation into Conn’s practices.
In making his decision, Smith said Burchett’s suicide could not have been foreseen by Conn, that it could not have, in fact, been foreseen by even his widow.
Wasting little time, Prestonsburg attorney Ned Pillersdorf filed a motion to vacate Smith’s ruling on Aug. 6, citing two claims against Conn in the lawsuit that had nothing to do with wrongful death.
The lawsuit, in addition to the wrongful death claim, included two other claims against Conn – fraud and outrageous conduct. Pillersdorf, in filing his motion to vacate, called the decision “perplexing.”
“What is perplexing is that the trial court relied on a federal decision which indicated that only in rare circumstances can you make a claim against someone for causing a suicide,” Pillersdorf said. “Why this is perplexing is that in the order dismissing the case the judge never explained why the other two claims which had nothing to with the suicide (fraud and outrageous conduct ) were being dismissed based on the federal suicide decision.”
A hearing by phone was scheduled for Monday to stop the hearings scheduled by the Social Security Administration in September, while Pillersdorf and others continue to seek representation for the 1,470 former clients of Conn’s who will be involved in those hearings.
“All I do know is that the outstanding legal team we have assembled are more determined than ever to protect the rights of these vulnerable 1,500,” Pillersdorf said. “Don’t despair, this fight for justice is just starting.”
Sheldon Compton is a staff writer for The Floyd County Times. He can be reached at (606) 886-8506.